The DOJ notified three of its reporters “that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records … for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017.” These records included their personal, work, and home phone numbers.
The DOJ obtained Starr’s personal and work email, as well as her phone records, between June 1, 2017, and July 31, 2017. Starr was notified that the records had been seized after a court had approved the action.
As long as the attorney general approves the request, prosecutors are able to obtain records from journalists without their knowledge through the court system. Prosecutors must also demonstrate that the records are related or potentially useful to “extraordinary” circumstances like national security threats, CNN reported.
It’s unclear what the Trump administration was looking for in obtaining Starr’s records.
The longstanding and controversial practice of federal investigators secretly seizing records from journalists, under the scope of leak investigations, was widely used by the Obama administration and favored by the Trump administration as well.
Biden’s Friday comments against the action mark the strongest stance against the practice from his administration.
Hours before Biden gave his direct remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said ultimately, the Justice Department would have the final say.
“This President is committed, strongly, to the rights of the freedom of press as you’ve seen for decades, and standing up for the rights of journalists,” Psaki said. “And the Justice Department conveyed yesterday that they intend to meet with reporters to hear their concerns about recent notices.”
“They certainly intend to use the Holder model as their model, not the model of the last several years, but really these decisions would be up to the Justice Department,” Psaki added, referencing former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Justice Department did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, was named Tuesday as executive editor of The Washington Post, succeeding the recently retired Marty Baron.
As AP’s top editor since 2017, Buzbee has directed AP’s journalism through the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump’s presidency, the #MeToo movement, Brexit, protests over racial injustice, and the 2020 US election.
Her emphasis on live coverage of breaking news events in all formats, augmented by deep enterprise reporting, has helped yield top awards, including Pulitzer prizes in feature photography and international reporting, along with six other Pulitzer finalists.
In appointing Buzbee to one of the most high-profile jobs in journalism, Fred Ryan, the newspaper’s publisher and CEO, pointed to her achievements and experience in leading a global news organization.
“In an extensive search that included many of the best journalists in America, Sally stood out as the right person to lead the Post going forward,” Ryan said. “She is widely admired for her absolute integrity, boundless energy and dedication to the essential role journalism plays in safeguarding our democracy.”
Buzbee previously served as the agency’s Washington bureau chief, and before that was Middle East editor, among many other positions in an AP career stretching back to 1988.
At the Post, Buzbee succeeds the widely revered Baron, who had led the Post since 2013, guiding the news organization’s resurgence under the ownership of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Baron retired earlier this year at age 66.
“I’ve been blessed to have one of the best jobs in journalism, and I’m excited to take on a whole new challenge,” Buzbee said. “The Post has a strong legacy, a committed staff, and is doing some of the most innovative work to engage new audiences.”
Buzbee, originally from Olathe, Kansas, joined the AP as a reporter in Topeka. She was correspondent in San Diego, and then in 1995 joined the Washington bureau, where she eventually became assistant chief of bureau.
In 2004, Buzbee became AP’s Middle East editor, based in Cairo, where she led coverage of the war in Iraq, the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the Darfur crisis and the growth of terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and elsewhere.
In early 2010, she was promoted to deputy managing editor at the agency’s New York headquarters and led the founding of the Nerve Center, AP’s now-integral hub for global news coordination and customer communication. Later that year, she was named chief of the Washington bureau, where she oversaw coverage of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and the bureau’s polling and investigative teams.
“This is bittersweet news for the AP,” President and CEO Gary Pruitt said. “Sally has been an exceptional leader, guiding AP’s journalists and news report through some of the most pivotal news events of our time. We are sorry to lose Sally but very happy for her as she takes the next step in her career. We look forward to watching Sally succeed at the Post.”
Buzbee will begin her new position on June 1. and The AP announced Tuesday that it was immediately launching a search for a new executive editor. The process is expected to take a few months.
Until a selection is made, the executive editor duties will be shared by AP Vice President and Managing Editor Brian Carovillano, who will lead AP’s news report, and AP Vice President and Managing Editor David Scott, who will handle news operations.
“The journalists of the AP are some of the world’s best people -bold, brave and utterly committed to the facts,” Buzbee said. “Each day they tell the world’s stories with accuracy, precision and flair, and the world depends on AP for that solid information. It has been a huge honor and joy to work with them.”
It read: “Correction: An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation. That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings.”
The New York Times and NBC News have withdrawn similar claims.
“An earlier version of this article misstated whether Rudolph W. Giuliani received a formal warning from the F.B.I. about Russian disinformation. Mr. Giuliani did not receive such a so-called defensive briefing,” reads the correction in the Times.
The reports all focussed on FBI raids on Giuliani’s office and apartment in Manhattan last week, in which agents seized computers and other devices belonging to Giuliani.
Investigators are reportedly probing whether Giuliani was acting on behalf of Ukrainian officials during his search for damaging information about Joe Biden, then Democratic presidential nominee, and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine in 2019.
The Times reported that Giuliani’s communications with the Trump administration over the firing of the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, in May 2019 were being scrutinised the federal agents.
Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing.
“I’ve never represented a Ukrainian national or official before the United States government,” Giuliani said in an interview on Fox News on Thursday in the wake of the raids.
Jeff Bezos has been awarded $218,000 in legal fees, the latest development in the high-profile legal drama surrounding the Amazon CEO.
What began as a tabloid scoop two years ago revealing the relationship between Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, has since resulted in investigations into her brother, Michael, the National Enquirer, and even the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, as well as a protracted legal battle between Michael Sanchez and Bezos.
Here’s where the conflict began and everything that’s happened since.
In January 2019, Bezos and his then wife, MacKenzie, announced they were divorcing.
At the time, Sanchez was married to Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of WME, a Hollywood talent agency. The couple had been friends with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos because they had houses near each other in Seattle, according to Page Six.
The Enquirer said it had conducted a four-month investigation into the relationship between Bezos and Sanchez, tracking the couple “across five states and 40,000 miles” and tailing them on hikes and dinner dates.
Beyond its own surveillance of Bezos and Sanchez, the Enquirer reported it had acquired “raunchy messages” the couple had sent each other, some of which the tabloid published. The Enquirer also said it had racy photos of both Bezos and Sanchez, including one that was too explicit to describe in print.
Soon after, The Daily Beast reported that Bezos was funding an investigation – headed up by his personal head of security, Gavin de Becker – into who had leaked his private messages to the Enquirer. De Becker said at the time that he thought the leaks were “politically motivated,” which AMI denied.
Bezos wrote that AMI had been threatening him with the publication of explicit pictures he’d taken of himself unless he stopped investigating who leaked his photos and texts to the tabloid. In response, Bezos published the emails he’d received from AMI.
De Becker told The Daily Beast that Michael Sanchez was “among the people we’ve been speaking with and looking at” during the investigation and that “strong leads point to political motives” for leaking information to the Enquirer.
Sanchez had described himself as a supporter of President Donald Trump, who had a longtime ally in Pecker. De Becker told the Washington Post in February 2019 that he thought the Enquirer had published its scoop about Bezos and Sanchez in order to embarrass Bezos, and that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign were involved.
A feud has simmered for years between Trump and Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. Trump has made the Post a target over the years and has lumped together Amazon and the Post as a way to cast doubt on the paper’s credibility.
For his part, Sanchez denied de Becker’s allegation, accusing him of telling “lies, half-truths, sloppy tabloid leaks, [and] crazy conspiracy theories” in a statement to the Washington Post. He told Fox News that “all of the investigations thus far have cleared me of any involvement in the below-the-belt selfies.”
Sanchez told Business Insider that he did not leak Bezos’ “penis photos” to the Enquirer, but did not specifically deny leaking text messages between his sister and Bezos. “I’m not saying I didn’t do something,” he later told Vanity Fair, but said his only goal was to protect his sister and Bezos’ relationship.
Sanchez had worked as a Hollywood talent manager, and he told Fox News that Bezos had asked him for help handling the scandal around his divorce. “He said that he didn’t think the Amazon PR team was equipped to handle this kind of story,” Sanchez said of Bezos.
In March 2019, de Becker wrote in The Daily Beast that he believed the Saudi Arabian government had hacked Bezos’ phone in order to gain access to his private messages in retaliation for the Post reporting Saudi agents killed Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.
In January 2020, that assertion was backed up by reports by the Guardian and United Nations investigators, who said they had “reasonable certainty” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in a hack of Bezos’ iPhone.
Throughout it all, AMI has insisted that Michael Sanchez is the single source behind its reporting on Lauren Sanchez’s relationship with Bezos. According to a New York Times report from January, Lauren Sanchez shared the texts and photos with her brother, who then licensed them to the Enquirer for $200,000 in October 2018.
In February, Michael Sanchez filed a defamation lawsuit against Bezos that claims Bezos and de Becker falsely accused him of providing the nude photos to the Enquirer. Sanchez claimed in the suit that Bezos told journalists he had handed over the images to the tabloid, but Sanchez said he never had the photos in his possession.
Following the lawsuit filing, Lauren Sanchez said in a statement to TMZ that her brother “secretly provided my most personal information to the National Enquirer – a deep and unforgivable betrayal. My family is hurting over this new baseless and untrue lawsuit, and we truly hope my brother finds peace.”
Bezos quickly filed a motion to dismiss the suit under a California law that’s intended to protect against frivolous lawsuits. Bezos said Sanchez’s suit amounted to “extortion” and directly threatened free speech.
In November 2020, Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled in favor of Bezos, striking down Sanchez’s defamation suit. “Here, there is no admissible evidence that Defendants published the subject statements. Plaintiff’s declaration merely discusses what he was told by reporters, which is inadmissible hearsay,” Judge John P. Doyle wrote in his ruling.
“We respectfully disagree with the trial court’s ruling and look forward to vindicating Mr. Sanchez’s claims on appeal,” Tom Warren, Sanchez’s attorney, told Insider in an emailed statement at the time.
William Isaacson, an attorney representing Bezos and de Becker, said in an emailed statement to Insider that “journalists will surely take the Court’s ruling into account when considering Michael Sanchez as a source.”
“My clients are pleased that the judge has thrown out the baseless case filed by Michael Sanchez,” Isaacson said. “When it comes to frivolous lawsuits seeking money or attention, the law is clear — and the law worked.”
Source: Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
In January, Bezos filed a motion to compel Sanchez to cover $1.7 million in legal fees following his unsuccessful suit.
Bezos and de Becker requested that Sanchez reimburse them for $1,676,919.50 in attorney fees and $36,019.26 in other costs they racked up while defending the suit.
Tom Warren, an attorney for Sanchez, told Insider in a statement that “Mr. Bezos’ fee request is obscene, even grotesque, on many levels.”
The Washington Post’s Faiz Siddiqui published a report on Tuesday about how the demands on Musk’s time – including his travel schedule, personal life, and focus on SpaceX, the rocket company he also runs – are beginning to impact Tesla, leading to what some critics view as missteps in his management of the business.
While reporting the story, which The Post said features interviews with a dozen current and former Tesla employees, investors, and analysts, the publication reached out to Musk by email and received a brief response in return.
“Give my regards to your puppet master,” Musk said in response to The Post’s request for comment.
But that hasn’t stopped critics from conflating the billionaire tech founder and the nearly 150-year-old publication, most vocal among them former President Donald Trump. Trump made Bezos and The Post a frequent target during his administration, tweeting that the paper spread “fake news” and served as Amazon’s “chief lobbyist.”
With this latest barb, Musk is adding fuel to a rivalry with Bezos that dates back to at least 2004. Over the last 15 years, Musk has leveled a string of criticisms at Bezos and his rocket company, Blue Origin, including calling Bezos a copycat over some of his business ventures, describing Amazon as a monopoly, and appearing to make some digs about Bezos’ age.
For his part, Bezos has repeatedly critiqued SpaceX and Musk’s main goal, which is to send humans to Mars – Bezos has described the idea as “un-motivating.”
“Go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first and see if you like it, because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars,” Bezos said in 2019.
In a report produced days before the deadly siege on the US Capitol, Capitol Police intelligence warned “Congress itself” could be the target of an attack by pro-Trump protesters.
The January 3 report, obtained by The Washington Post, said Trump supporters saw January 6 “as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election” and that this “sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent.”
Following the attack, US Capitol Police has come under scrutiny for failing to prevent the breach of the Capitol building.
In a report produced days before the deadly siege on the US Capitol, Capitol Police intelligence warned “Congress itself” could be the target of an attack by pro-Trump protesters.
“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” a portion of the report, obtained by The Washington Post, says. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent.”
“Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th,” the report says.
A Capitol Police spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The day after the attack, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for the resignation of Steven Sund, chief of the Capitol Police. Sund announced his resignation hours later.
One Capitol Police officer told Insider’s Ashley Collman that he and others expected to work Wednesday due to the planned protest rallies, but were told to go home. Meanwhile, reports have emerged that law enforcement anticipated violence on the Capitol that day.
The 12-page report from Capitol Police intelligence warning of a threat to Congress was produced January 3, three days before the attack.
The report clearly spells out the possibility of violence by supporters of President Donald Trump on January 6, citing multiple protests that were scheduled to take place on Capitol grounds that day.
It noted the “Stop the Steal” protest was promoted by the president himself and could draw thousands of people, as high-profile speakers – including members of Congress – were expected to attend.
“This combined with Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike,” the report said.
“We got one!” Michael Fanone, a DC Metro Police Officer, said the crowd yelled after he was dragged down the steps of the Capitol, hit with a stun gun, and suffered a mild heart attack. “Kill him with his own gun!”
In an interview with The Post published Thursday, Fanone said he rushed to the Capitol after hearing dispatchers declare an emergency.
When he got there, he realized law enforcement was severely outnumbered.
“We were battling 15,000 people,” he said. “It looked like a medieval battle scene.”
According to The Post, Fanone barely survived that battle. One rioter grabbed his helmet and dragged him down the stems where others swarmed over him, attacking Fanone and another officer with metal pipes and a flag pole amid chants of “USA.”
In total, nearly five dozen DC police officers were wounded by rioters during the insurrection, according to The Post.
“They were overthrowing the Capitol, the seat of democracy,” Fanone commented.
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